Prophetic utterance by Pope Francis?
At this time of the liturgical year, the Pope continued, “the Church turns our thoughts to the end of this world, since it will come to and end, for the world as we know it is passing away”. The Gospel tells us that “all these things will occur”, but, he asked, how long must we wait? In St Luke (cf 21:20-28) we hear: “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. For, he said, “even the pagans have a fullness of time … they have a kairós, the final triumph: the destruction of Jerusalem”. In the Gospel of St Luke we read: “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Lk 21:25-26).
“It is a calamity,” the Pope said. “However, when Jesus speaks of this calamity in another passage, he tells us that it will be a profanation of the temple, a profanation of the faith, of the people. It will be an abomination. It will be the abomination of desolation (Dan 9:27). What does this mean? It will appear to be the triumph of the prince of this world, the defeat of God. It will seem, in that final moment of calamity, as though he has taken over the world” and has become “master of the world”.
Pope Francis then explained how “this battle between the living God and the prince of this world” can also be traced out in the first Reading from the Book of Daniel (6:12-28). Essentially, he said, “Daniel is condemned only for worshipping, for worshipping God. And the abomination of desolation is called prohibition against worship”.
The Pope then explained, “in that time one could not speak about religion: it was a private matter”. Religious symbols were removed and taken down, and the people had to obey the orders that came from “worldly powers”. The worship of God was forbidden. This was “the kairós of this pagan attitude”. But “when this time is fulfilled, then He will come”, as we read in the Gospel, “then they will see the Son of man coming in the cloud with power and great glory”.
The word of God reminds us, he said, how “Christians that suffer through times of persecution, through times when worship is prohibited, are a prophetic sign of what will happen to everyone”. However, precisely in moments such as these, when the times of the pagans are being fulfilled, “raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”.